Monday, 25 August 2014

NHYes: Part 2

Hi there!  Thanks for coming back. If you’re asking “From where?” you probably need to go and read Part 1 of this blog post here.

So far we’ve demonstrated, in the face of frenzied denials from Scottish Labour, that the NHS in England has lately been undergoing jaw-droppingly hazardous surgery, with no obvious sign of voters having signed consent forms, because of the Tories' irresistible privatisation fetish.

But we still have work to do to establish that this presents a threat to the Scottish NHS if we stay within the UK.  And it’s well worth doing so, even if it’s only to annoy the sanctimonious twerps who snarl that it’s a filthy great lie, often in the same breath as asserting that after a Yes vote cross-border co-operation on organ transplants will simply melt like snow and bouncers at Great Ormond Street will shoo sick Scottish kids away with cattle prods.   

So fasten your seat belts, it’s time for a demolition job on all those faux-outraged “Yes is scaremongering” arguments.  No doubt nay-sayers will decry it as simplistic and straw-mannish, but (a) that’s what they get for reading a comedy blog written by a fat middle-aged bloke whose affection for grandiose words can’t disguise his lack of intellectual rigour, and (b) they can just piss off, right? 

NHS Scotland is completely devolved

Well, it’s independent, if you don’t mind me being picky.  Has been from the very start. Unlike the English NHS, where vested interests such as the BMA kicked up a fuss, creating the Scottish NHS was like pushing at an open door, a natural development of the existing framework of health provision, and Nye Bevan was too smart to mess with that.

Of course, the Scottish Government has no control over its funding, unless it wants to provoke a refugee crisis in Carlisle by exercising its booby-trapped “tax-raising powers”. Swinney’s magic abacus can achieve only so much if the Cameron/Osborne nexus of evil shrinks the overall purse. 

And NHS Scotland independence lasts, as does the whole kit and caboodle of devolution, only as long as the UK Government wills it.  Baby-Face Burnham, for one, is on record as saying he’d like health policies that are “consistent across England, Scotland and Wales”, so who fancies a game of Russian roulette at the 2015 General Election?

Nobody’s suggesting dismantling the Barnett Formula 

Uh huh.  Apart from swathes of the English public stirred up by the mercenary tarts of the London-based press.  Or various purple-faced politicians in other parts of the UK, who I’m sure are not shaking their fists, but merely trying to empty an invisible bottle of ketchup.

NHS England funding is going up, not down

This one is actually true, as far as my muddled brain can make out.  But, as they say in Stock Market offer documents, well aware that goggle-eyed investors won’t pay any attention, past performance is no guide to the future.  It beggars belief that the Tories, never knowingly out-Scrooged, would have devised the present upheaval in the NHS if it weren’t going to result in spending less money over time.

That it hasn’t yet produced that outcome may well be down to the initial splurge of private contracts turning out to be a bit of a shambles.  Top of the list, and possibly tip of the iceberg, is the recently-reported botching of a series of cataract operations by a cowboy outfit in the West Country.  Don’t worry, folks, the part of the local NHS that still remains has donned its white hat and come galloping to the rescue, but Mr Taxpayer has had to say cheerio to an arm and a leg in the process.

Basing the security of Barnett Formula funding on the continuing incompetence of the Tories?  Hmmm, not as bad a shout as one might think, but the law of averages says even Jeremy Hunt can’t make a dog’s dinner of everything forever. He can’t, surely?

Whatever happens to funding, privatisation of NHS Scotland isn’t inevitable

No, of course it isn’t, as long as you ignore the angry-looking cloud on the horizon called TTIP  - “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, I’m advised, although if you prefer to call it “Terrible Treatment, Inflated Profits” I won’t stand in your way. 

TTIP is an agreement that the EU, in one of its inexplicable bouts of corporate tummy-tickling, has concluded with the USA to “liberalise” trade.  Blowing away the flimsy construct of democracy, it forces member states to place their public services open to competition from American multinationals, in return for what looks suspiciously like bugger-all, though I’m sure it’s covered somewhere in infinitesimally small print.  The transformation, needless to say, is irreversible, unless you’re Peter Capaldi and can remember where you’ve parked your police box.

It doesn’t apply in cases where there’s an existing state monopoly.  An independent Scotland, starting with the NHS as it’s currently administered, could make a rock-solid case for exemption.  However, if we remained part of the UK, and therefore not a “state” which could aspire to any sort of monopoly, that would be tantamount to painting a bloody great target on our backs.  With Hunt and his fellow clowns busily pimping the NHS as the new Klondike, any escape route would be well and truly kyboshed. 

Of course, this all becomes academic if Westminster slashes our pocket money and forces us to put the NHS entirely through the mincer.  In that event nobody will care about any pinstriped vultures enjoying a tasty scavenge, because we’ll all be too busy trying to ward off sickness with herbs and superstition.

Folks, NHS Scotland isn’t perfect, although as a consumer of health services on both sides of the border I like the cut of its jib.  But I’d like it to stay ours, to be run by people we can hold to account and ultimately controlled by politicians we elect and, if necessary eject. 

That may happen whichever way we vote in September, or it may not.  If I had a crystal ball, I’d be spending my time at Ladbroke’s growing disgustingly rich instead of wasting your time here.  But looking at the direction of the wind, and the various aromas it’s wafting our way, it’s not too difficult to judge the balance of probabilities.

Vote Yes, Scotland.  For the good of your health.

If you’d like to find out more about the NHS arguments in the referendum debate from people who aren’t fat middle-aged blokes whose affection for grandiose words can’t disguise their lack of intellectual rigour, may I recommend the following:

Any YouTube video featuring Dr Philippa Whitford!

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